I do like to be beside the seaside

If only I had a pound for every time someone asked me why I was moving/had moved to my new house by the beach... I promised a while back that I would start a blog and that I would answer this question.

I have wanted to live by the sea for as long as I can remember. I have a simultaneous love of and respect for the sea. I don't like to be in it or on it - I get horribly seasick - but I love to watch and listen to the waves. I feel a sense of being able to breathe as the skies widen and the sea comes into view.

When Chris became ill, but when we were still hopeful of a cure, we discussed the inevitable reprioritisation of our values that comes when faced with a life threatening illness. We both felt that we (and esecially he!) were prioritising work too highly. We talked about slowing down, and moving away to the coast. We settled on Somerset - I can't remember exactly why - Cornwall was too far from our respective work opportunities, but there was something about the southwest coast that appealed to us both. We would look in to whether we could ask the consultancies we worked for to move us to their Bristol offices and find somewhere within commutable distance of there. I still have links to some of the houses we looked at online as we thought about all this.

When the oncologist encouraged us to book some holidays, we booked a week in Brean over new year with my sister and her family. I had stayed there before and knew the beach was lovely (although the sea is often a long way away!) and I found a cottage with direct beach access. The cottage looked wonderfully cosy for a winter beach break, and we planned to do day trips along the coast and surrounding villages to identify our perfect future home search area. Sadly, Chris didn't live to make that holiday, but the rest of our two families decided to go ahead with it. Between Christmas 2018 and new year 2019 we walked on the deserted beach, enjoyed the stunning views, and we went to Brean Down, but didn't scope out any other villages. We looked at the seafront properties and wondered how often they came up for sale. I jokingly set up a rightmove alert.

By June 2019 I was finding the stress of my work role on top of my grief to be too much and I resigned (I will write more about this in another post). In September of 2019 I took three months off to declutter the house, have some holidays, and set up my own business. I was no longer tied to any particular geography for work. It was around this time that the rightmove alert came up with a bungalow just down the road from the cottage we had stayed in at new year. The garden ended at the sand dunes, with access to the beach. It had 3 bedrooms, was in good decorative order. I looked at the photos and floorplans and I couldn't find the catch - it was even in my price range.

Over the next few weeks I kept looking at the house online, expecting it to be sold. I attended a vision board evening run by Shelley at Experience Reiki. In thinking about what I really wanted in my life, this dream of living by the beach loomed large. I wasn't sure how sticking pictures of a beach would make the dream happen. I now realise that when you focus on your vision your decisions are shaped by it, instead of it being so easy to be distracted off course.

I wrote in my journal about how much I wanted to move to the coast, but how I didn't want to disrupt my daughters. I described it as feeling trapped. My youngest had found a college that she wanted to go to, near my parents, where she could include a performing arts qualification. When I broached the subject she reacted angrily, at the thought of moving away from friends and family and of not going to that college. I decided to park the idea, as in just two years she would be off to work or Uni and I would only have myself to consider.

Meanwhile, my oldest daughter was at University in Swansea, living near the sea. After a visit to see her in November, where I felt so envious, I looked again at the house- it was still available!

I worried that if I moved away from the home I had shared with Chris it might feel like a betrayal, or that I would miss him more. Then at Christmas, on a beach in Australia, as far away as I could be from home, I felt a sense of Chris being with me and I realised that his memory goes with me, it isn't tied to a house or a cemetery or a location. I sense him in nature, the sea and the sky.

We returned home, I checked and the house was still on the market. I decided to google nearby 16-18 colleges, and found a performing arts diploma that looked even better than the one my daughter had found. Maybe I had found a solution? I decided that I would go and look at the house, without telling the girls. Maybe if I saw it in person I wouldn't like it and I could forget the whole idea.

At this point I decided to reach out to the wids. What if this was just one of those phases that widows go through? I was past the year that everyone says to wait before making big decisions, but what if every widow fantasises about moving away from everything familiar and starting over, and then gets over it? One of my favourite things about the WAY community is that having lived through similar experiences, they just get it (and they say what they really think!).

I posted on the facebook page, and got mixed advice, everything from "do it" to "don't do it" to "wait until your daughter finishes college". But then I got a message from a lady called Sylvia. "I'm in Somerset, you should check out this house near me, we would be neighbours!". She posted a link to rightmove. To the SAME house that I had been looking at for 3 or 4 months at this point. It's difficult to explain how I felt. I don't really believe in fate, especially now, but there was an excitement and feeling of destiny in all that was happening.

I booked an appointment to view the house, then realised that there was a college open day later the same week. I decided to involve the girls, and rearranged my viewing to coincide with the open day - and arranged to meet Sylvia, with whom I was chatting almost daily, that day too. I told my daughters that if they didn't like the house, or the college they just had to say, and I would forget the whole thing until the youngest had left college. I needn't have bothered - both girls loved the house, the college was a hit. Our house was on the market two weeks later and the chain was complete within a month. The rest of the process went remarkably smoothly, despite the COVID-19 interruptions.

We moved into the house in early June, and we love it. Sylvia's daughter and mine have become friends, Sylvia and I are also friends and meet regularly. It sounds cheesy, but it feels like this house has been a gift from Chris. And I get to walk on the beach at sunset almost every day!

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